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Boston Bomb Little Affected Govt. Policy

Official Action Seen Lacking Year After Marathon Attack

  • FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world.  Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

    FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world. Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

  • FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world.  Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

    FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world. Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

  • FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world.  Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
  • FILE - This April 15, 2013 file photo shows medical workers aid injured people following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston. In the days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the nation’s political leaders pledged resources and support for a city grappling with the first terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. But nearly a year after homemade bombs ripped through the marathon's finish line, there is little evidence of any lasting impact on the political world.  Federal funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be cut. And state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted a wave of government action.  (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Boston — A year after homemade bombs ripped through the Boston Marathon, state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted waves of government action.

“There was a great deal of concern right after this happened,” said Rep. William Keating, a Massachusetts Democrat. “Now, people are focused on so many different issues.”

Washington’s formal response to the attack has been limited to a series of investigations and reports that call for improved cooperation between the federal government and local law enforcement. In the Massachusetts Statehouse, legislators have created a license plate to honor the victims, while considering modest proposals to reimburse local police departments involved in the frantic search for those behind the attack.

Despite symbolic pledges of support from elected officials across the nation on this week’s anniversary, there is little evidence of any significant impact on policy. Instead of allocating new federal resources, funding that helps cities prepare for terrorism may be reduced. And it’s unclear if Congress will adopt any legislative remedies to address perceived intelligence failures that leave cities vulnerable to so-called lone wolf strikes.

Policymakers enacted an overwhelming legislative response in the wake of 9/11, creating a new federal agency, the Homeland Security Department, and sending a flood of money to help local officials across the country improve their ability to prevent and respond to a mass-casualty terrorist attack.

The changes improved anti-terrorism efforts at the state and federal level, which has been credited with preventing some attacks in recent years and minimizing the loss of life in last years’ Boston bombing. But the U.S. government has long feared a Boston Marathon-type attack carried out by people motivated by ideology although not tied to any designated terrorist group.

Changes in law and policy that could address preventing domestic “lone wolf” attackers would likely involve more surveillance of Americans, an issue that elected officials are reluctant to embrace following revelations that the National Security Agency collected phone records and emails of millions of U.S. citizens as part of anti-terrorism efforts.

That leaves Keating largely alone as he crafts legislation he hopes will help avert future attacks. The second-term congressman plans to introduce a bill this year that would incorporate much of the Homeland Security Committee’s recent recommendations, which include expanded cooperation between federal and local law enforcement and improved screening of international travelers. He said he may introduce the legislation in parts, depending on the level of support from other lawmakers.

At the same time, Keating says, there are signs that the federal government may cut some of the grant programs that help cities like Boston prepare for terrorist attacks. He said he is working to avoid that, but as a junior Democratic congressman in the GOP-led House, it is not easy.

“Unfortunately, the interest level on a tragedy like this peaks when it occurs,” he said.